Frederick

Age: 92
Location: Upper Norwood/Lambeth border

My story is that of a retired head teacher in my nineties, living alone.

My great love in life has been classical music. The unfortunate thing is now, because of my hearing, I don't hear it as I know it. I don't get the same kind of enjoyment as I did. I use music books and scores to trigger my mind and try and follow the music that I remember. It shuts my mind to new music, so I live really in the romantic era but I also enjoy the music of the late twentieth century.

The challenge with living on your own is if you don't get up and do your washing up, do your cooking, it doesn't get done. Therefore, it's an impetus to keep going. I have to say to myself, "That must be done, I've got to do that," so I do it.

I have arthritis, both forms (osteo and rheumatoid). I have hypertension, I've got tinnitus plus visual migraines.

In 2012 I had a triple heart bypass because of angina.

I suffered with asthma for many years as a youngster followed by migraine which I had most of my life but it was much better after I retired. Much of it was due to the subconscious pressures of dealing with a large group of people and different priorities. It does play on you.

A lot of people don't understand when I explain about my hearing problems. Hearing people bypass you, you get marginalised. I have to be quite sharp about this sometimes.

At one time I used to use the telephone quite a lot. I don't now, and I don't get so many calls. You begin to feel isolated. I don't feel lonely because I've lived alone close on 50 years. I can busy myself with my books. I love books. They're all over the house, I've got hundreds of them all over the place. I also like crossword puzzles.

Music was the core of my life. And that's what I miss most of all. If I want to shed a tear it's over my loss of my delights of music.

Not being able to hear music is one of the cruellest things in my life. Because of my hearing I don't hear it as I know it.

So I don't get the same kind of enjoyment as I did. I got the scores and things, I use that to trigger in my mind and try and follow the music that I remember.

It shuts my mind to new music, so I live really in the romantic era. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, etcetera.

I played the violin. That was before the war. When the war came, I stopped my violin lessons. I was playing in the school orchestra. That was put on hold.

Then I didn’t really get back to do it in a serious way after the war, because other things came along that took my time. But it was a pastime. I used to play in our own district orchestra.

The hand is bent. You see, the fingers over there. That was the result of the fall and arthritis set in there.

Yes, I would probably fiddle with the violin. Yes!

Oh sorry, no pun intended! I really didn't.

ME & MY TREATMENT

First thing in the morning I take medication for my oesophagus and my heart.

I then have to wait for 30 minutes before I can eat.

Immediately after my breakfast, I have my aspirin followed by a tablet for my hypertension, and another for my prostate.

One day a week, I have to take my tablets for arthritis.

One day a week, I have one acid tablet, and at night, I take medication for cholesterol.

Also, I have calcium tablets.

I've got the tablets for the oesophagus because I had a period when I would seize up completely and I couldn't swallow. It happens at food times and a number of times, mostly in difficult places when I was going out to dinner or something like that I'd be struck with it. I'm not without some basic humour, I can laugh it over really.

I had asthma very badly when I was a child. But it was a happy childhood. Then I would say the next really happy years were with the army. Teaching was rewarding and enjoyable. In fact, I have quite a number of pupils who still keep in contact with me. That warms you in the sense you've left some sort of imprint.

There are some very good programmes on television that I enjoy.

I like talking back to the television and saying, "But I don't agree with that or I do agree with that or what about so and so?" I always use the subtitles. I get more laughs from the subtitles than I do sometimes from the programme itself. Because they get so muddled about things, use the most inappropriate words at the most inappropriate times. It really is quite a hoot.

Those are the things that keep me going. I enjoy conversation with people very much. I have some family, some good friends and folk who visit me, and we have chats together which I enjoy.

Nobody ever thought I would live to this age. I was expected several times as a youngster with my asthma to pass on but my mother always said, "Nobody ever died from asthma Freddy". I found out later that they did.

If you live for a long time and you end up living alone you've lots of memories to draw on and recall. You look back and remember the things you have enjoyed - the places you have travelled to, the events you have experienced, and family and friends, past and present.